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Thomas Garrett, a legislator in Virginia, seems hell-bent on criminalizing oral sex between teenagers

Thomas Garrett is a State Senator in Virginia; he covers District 22, which is kind of an odd middle section of the state in between Richmond and Roanoke. He’s a Republican and fairly conservative; here’s a list of some of his primary sponsored legislation (should be noted some of it isn’t so awful, like letting felons become tow truck drivers after 15 years and easing cable fees for the underprivileged). Here’s the weird part, though: he has a bill in the works to essentially ban oral sex between minors. Garrett says the idea is to bring anti-sodomy laws into compliance with the Constitution, but the entire thing seems a bit confusing: in Virginia, the age of consent is 15. It’s a misdemeanor for for an adult to have sex with someone aged 15-18 (that’s better than a felony, because jailing someone for having sex with their HS relationship is something I’ve never even remotely understood), so essentially — this bill makes it more criminal for an adult and a 15-to-17 year-old to have oral sex than it would be for them to have vaginal sex. Looked at another way, two teenagers who are dating would be criminally prohibited from having oral or anal sex — but vaginal sex remains fine. So … er … if you were 16 and dating another 16 year-old, it would be most beneficial for you to do the thing with the highest chance of spreading disease? Apparently so.

Phrased another way, an unwed teen mother are much better for Virginia than teenagers who are either (a) gay or (b) really into oral sex. Whole thing seems kind of odd.

Here’s a little bit more on it, including this section:

In an email to the Huffington Post, Senator Garrett defended his bill by saying its aim was not to prohibit oral sex between teens, but to protect them from child predators.

He said he was concerned that predators convitcted of ‘crimes against nature’ with children or teens ‘may pursue appeal and quite possibly be released.’

If that’s the case, legal experts say Senator Garrett should have drafted a law against predators instead of against certain sexual acts.

The ACLU of Virginia is opposing the legislation because, logically, it leaves discriminatory practices in place and creates a situation where LGBT people are treated differently than those who have more “normal” sex. Again, whole thing is kind of odd.

Perhaps none of this should be tremendously surprising, since Garrett thinks of himself alternatively as a “constitutional conservative” —

— and/or a “Cuccinelli conservative” after the failed VA gubernatorial candidate:

He did win the Freshman Legislator of the Year Award from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, though:

It seems likely the bill in question will be somewhat tweaked because of the response so far, but this is one of those “Oh, someone tried to sneak that through?” moments in local politics that are fun to spotlight. If this whole legislation was centered around the idea of punishing potential teenage gay sex, well, people need to realize that the Bible is fiercely-contested ground on that issue.

Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. Psssht. Oral sex can spread disease as well. I’m for carrot rather than stick. Virginia should pass a resolution sanctioning and encouraging manual sex among minors. Maybe even give some college funds to law-abiding young wankers/diddlers.

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